Part 2: The jail my dad was locked in during the early months of 1974 had three floors. It grew out of a hill like most old buildings in Valparaiso do. The southern exterior wall of the jail had a huge drop where more than one inmate must have tried escaping by jumping onto a passing hay cart. My dad told me they had him on the third level with the rest of the communists. He wasn’t a communist but he was charged as an armed subversive because he owned a gun in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 coup. According to him, the unregistered gun he kept in the toolshed next to the paint thinner was “older than him” and was meant for deterrence only. Every time I heard my dad’s gun story, peppered with his typical hyperboles, I imagined one of those guns pirates used during the golden age of the man blouse. A poor weapon choice in the event of an escalating conflict with anybody over the age of 11, in my opinion.
My dad was apprehended late at night on Cerro Marisopa in Valparaiso. I imagine him cooking ravioli when he heard a knock on the door. There were cops and they had submachine guns. He didn’t resist. Not even in his embellished retelling of the story. He spent the next three months in jail. How the cops knew my dad owned the gun has always been a mystery to me.
When I shot the Super8 film in 2002 the prison had become a cultural center.